The return of chartered flights to Moi International Airport in Mombasa with foreign tourists has signaled hopes for a tourism sector rebound amid the economic shocks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mombasa county will now receive two chartered flights from Ukraine every Month after the county government of Mombasa signed a pact agreement with the European country as it seeks to reposition itself among the preferred Kenyan destinations under the sister cities program.
On Monday, Mombasa received the second chartered flight from Ukraine that landed at the Moi International Airport with 180 tourists. Ukraine remains among the potential tourist markets with close to 3 Million tourists travelling annually.
Mombasa County government tourism Chief officer Aisha Abdi says this is its initiative through a sister cities program to sell Mombasa as a destination. Earlier this month, Kenya received the first chatter flight from Ukraine with 189 tourists.
The flight signals the growing confidence in the destination by tourists with regards to preparedness against Covid-19 which has enhanced traveler confidence. This is as Mombasa embarks on diversification of products to improve customer experience.
The official says the arrival of the chartered plan in Mombasa is just a start of their work as a county to market Mombasa as a tourism destination. Mombasa becomes the backbone of the tourism sector with 90 percent of arrivals using Moi International Airport.
“I thank the marketers and travel agents who are working tirelessly to bring visitors to Kenya. I assure you of the government’s support, we need to all work together to revive the sector fully,” said Abdi.
Ukraine consulate in Mombasa representative Oleksii Sierkoc expressed his satisfaction with the sister city program saying it will foster economic relationships between the two countries. Kenya seeks to benefit from Millions of tourists from Ukraine.
“Ukraine sends abroad around 3 Million tourists annually, and Kenya stands a chance to benefit from that because it has a lot of good tourism products to offer, personally I will rally my country to prioritise Kenya as their preferred tourism destination. We would advise Kenya that they should increase marketing budgets to tap into the Ukraine market,” said Sierkoc.
(Getting down on it! Ukraine tourists jet at the Moi international airport, Mombasa. Photo/Haramo Ali).
The flight operated by Bees Airline, a Ukrainian Charter operator and marketed by Travel Professional Group (TPG), landed in Kenya carrying 180 visitors from Ukraine where visitors will stay for 10 days before another flight bringing more tourists will land.
Mombasa County has already taken physical measures to cushion hospitality sector players by waiving by 50 percent some taxes to enable them stay afloat during the low season which has been worsened by the covid-19 pandemic.
“We have unveiled a raft of physical measures to cushion players including extension of grace period on business permits till June 20,we have suspended all hotel levies until further notice and a 50 percent waiver on specified taxes within the hospitality industry, this are measures to cushion players against the covid-19 economic shocks,” said Abdi.